Track & Field
    Henderson & Ali Earn All-America Honors At NCAA T&F Championships

    Redshirt senior Nia Ali placed sixth in the women's high jump to become the first Trojan female to score in the event since 1997. In her down time between jumps, she ran the fastest qualifying time in the women's 100m HH to advance to Saturdays finals.

    June 9, 2011

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    Trey Henderson placed fourth in the hammer throw and Nia Ali sixth in the high jump while Brendan Ames, Jessica Davis and Aareon Payne advanced to NCAA finals today (June 9) during the second day of the NCAA Track and Field Championships being held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Ia. The four-day meet which runs through Saturday features the top 24 male and female individuals in the country in 19 different events with 187 schools represented. Scoring at the NCAA championships is 10 points for first, 8 points for second, 6 points for third, 5 points for fourth, 4 points for fifth, 3 points for sixth, 2 points for seventh and 1 point for eighth.

    Whereas the first day of the championship was contested under suppressive heat and humidity and the rain showers were a welcome break, today's action seemed in jeopardy early in the day due to heavy rains and even early morning hail, but things cleared up and there was just a light sprinkle at the beginning of the first event, the men's hammer. That would all change drastically by the end of the day, when the action was halted at about 8:15 p.m. due to lightning Action was set to resume again at 10:15, but at about 10 p.m. another storm warning was issued and the meet was put into another delay. About a half hour after that action was suspended until tomorrow.

    Before the rains came, there was plenty of action for the Trojans.

    The senior Henderson got things started for USC by competing in the men's hammer throw competition. Henderson drew the first flight which was loaded with many of the top throwers in the country. Henderson had a first throw of 208-4, then a throw of 217-3 and finally a mark of 217-9 to end the first round in fifth place. That position seemed a little dicey after the second throw in the second flight moved past him and dropped Henderson to sixth. As it would turn out, only three throwers from the second flight would advance and only the one had passed Henderson, so he advanced to the finals in sixth place. He fouled in his fourth attempt and threw 213-6 in his fifth attempt to find himself in seventh place entering the final round.

    By the time he geared up for his final throw he was assured of at least a seventh-place finish, but Henderson had other things in mind. In his final collegiate throw, he let out a throw of 221-8 (67.58m) to vault into fourth place where he would remain and earn USC's first five points in the team competition. Henderson made it consecutive All-America seasons in the hammer throw, as he finished fifth at the 2010 NCAA Championships. If you want to break down the satisfaction of the throw on another level for Trojan fans, Henderson's final mark bumped crosstown rival UCLA's Alec Faldermeyer down to fifth. Henderson's fourth-place finish is the highest by a Trojan male in the hammer throw competition at the NCAAs since Norbert Horvath finished second in 1999.

    "It was a phenomenal performance for Trey considering the fact that he is injured (back) and has been sick, and to come through on his last throw like that shows how mentally tough he is," said USC throws coach Dan Lange

    For coach Lange, Henderson made it at least one All-American in the men's hammer in 15 of the last 19 seasons and an amazing 16 in that stretch.

    The women's 200m dash semifinals kicked off the day on the track for the Trojans and junior Aareon Payne and freshman Jessica Davis got things started in style. First Payne won the second heat with a time of 22.97 to automatically advance. Then in the final heat, Davis took second with a time of 23.06 to also automatically advance to the eight-women final on Saturday.

    Jessica Davis

    The next Trojan to run was junior Blake Shaw in the men's 1500m race. He was in the first heat, with the top five runners in each heat advancing automatically and then the next two best times also moving on to Saturday's final. Shaw was one of the early pace-setters for the first two and a half laps. With about 600m remaining the runners picked up the pace and Shaw remained in the hunt down the stretch, but finished in eighth place with a time of 3:50.39 which meant whatever happened in the second heat the best he could finish would be the first runner out. When the second heat was done, Shaw finished in 16th place to earn second team All-America status.

    Blake Shaw

    The redshirt senior Ali was doing double duty on the day, beginning her day's work in the women's high jump finals. Ali passed at 5-7.25 (1.72) and entered the competition when the bar reached 5-9.25 (1.76m). She made quick work of that height, clearing it easily on her first attempt. She then ran over to compete in the women's 100m HH.

    Ali won her heat with the day's best time of 12.82 to advance to Saturday's finals. Freshman Lauren Blackburn then placed sixth in her heat with a time of 13.35 and did not advance to the finals. Blackburn ended up in 16th place to earn second team All-America honors.

    Nia Ali

    Ali then went back to work in the high jump. The bar was at 5-10.75 (1.80m) and most of the field had made their attempts and when Ali cleared again in her first attempt, she was one of 13 remaining jumpers. The bar then went to 6-0.00 (1.83m) with Ali one of three contestants clean through 5-10.75. Four jumpers had cleared 6-0.00 by the time Ali made her first attempt and she scraped the bar off to drop temporarily into a fifth-place tie. One more jumper cleared on her final attempt, putting Ali in sixth place entering her second attempt. She then jumped into the bar on her second attempt, leaving her one more attempt to advance. She also missed on her final attempt to finish sixth and earn All-America status and the first three points for USC in the women's team competition. Had she been able to clear that bar she would have finished at least tied for third as only one jumper cleared the next height. Ali became the first Trojan female to score in the high jump at the NCAA Championships since Emelie Fardigh placed fifth in 1997.

    After the women's high hurdles was completed, seniors Brendan Ames and Oscar Spurlock ran in the men's 110m HH. Unfortunately they were in the same heat, the second, so they were going to need to finish 1-2 or take the two next best time slots which stood at 13.48 and 13.54 after the first heat. Ames placed second with a time of 13.54 to automatically advance to Saturday's final, but Spurlock finished seventh in the heat and 17th overall with a time of 13.75. Spurlock as a result became honorable mention All-America. Spurlock ended his outstanding USC career tied for the school record in the 110m HH with a time of 13.33 set earlier this season.

    Brendan Ames

    The rains had started by the time the women's 4x400m relay competition began and after the first two heats the rain delays began and the ultimate suspension of action. The men's 4x400m relay team which was warming up, will now compete tomorrow (Friday), with an updated NCAA Championship schedule to be posted on the NCAA website ( tomorrow at 8 a.m. CT.

    In action tomorrow for the Trojans competing in trials and finals with a chance to score team points are Joey Hughes (400m), Josh Mance (400m), Marissa Minderler (hammer throw), Dalilah Muhammad (400m IH) and Jenny Ozorai (hammer throw). Also with the new schedule, the men's 4x400m relay team of Hughes, Mance, Duane Walker and Reggie Wyatt (with alternates Scott DeYoung and Bryshon Nellum) will compete in a semifinal.